7 – Blog 17 – Temps Perdu

Standing in the main arrival hall of the Geneva International Airport, I burst into tears. This beautiful woman loves me, her husband loves me, and I have no memory who she is except what her husband has told me. I met him less than 24 hours ago. She has flown halfway around the world to be with me. My only reaction is to tell her ‘I’m the Boss’?

I cannot deal with it all. For the fourth time since I met John Landis, I am in tears again.

Debbie grabs me for the third time, “It’s okay, dear. It’s okay to cry.”

She bursts into tears. John steers us toward the car in the parking lot. We stand there, a soggy lot uncertain how to proceed.

Addressing Debbie, John says we need ground rules, “Laz has no memory of us Debbie. It is unfair to proceed without considering his feelings. We can’t dwell in the past. I spent this morning with his new ‘family.’ They are all musicians, extremely famous ones and their band members. They work hard to plan performances, some in the street and some in concert settings. He is full of ideas and this ‘family’ acts them out. I promised we would not speak about a past that he doesn’t remember.”

“What you say shows he is the Tim we remember. He hasn’t changed,” she mumbles.

I remain mute as they work out how to deal with me. I am mystified by their devotion.

Casper, my guardian angel, is there to help me.

‘I remember them. He was your boss in LA. His wife tried to make you eat health food.’

‘Why do they love me? Why do I cry every time they show it?’

‘You always cried, mostly because you were happy and didn’t know how to express it.’

‘How old are you?’

“I’m permanently fifteen. We were the same age when I died. I’m stuck at that age. Have you stopped loving me?’ he looks upset.

‘I’m almost twenty. How can I love you? You’re like Amar, a little brother.’

“I’ll hang out with him. I bet I can twirl up into the air better than he can.’

‘Fine. I do like you a lot, but love is difficult for me. I’m supposed to love Freddie, but he’s thirty-two.’

‘You’re an adult, making problems where they don’t have to be.’

John and Debbie have been hugging and kissing while Casper has my attention.

“Jeez, guys. Get a room if you’re going to act that way.”

They gulp and relax. We get in the car and drive to Montreux. I start chatting about our performances. They laugh when I tell them I sang and played punk rock after the Queen encore to make everyone to leave.

“The older fans panicked and ran up the aisles to escape 200 crazed teenagers.”

“Sounds familiar,” Debbie laughs. John motions for her not to talk about my past. At least I have new adventures to talk about.

“The Whirling Dervish show on Friday at the Muslim Cultural Canter in Lausanne is Bowie’s way to bridge the gap that Sunni/Shia Iranian politics has incited. David is reminding all Muslims they share the same spirituality of Islam. The trance of whirling clears the mind and removes your consciousness from the everyday world where politics rule.” I sound so wise.

John and Debbie look astounded.

“You are planning to solve world peace through dance?” Debbie asks.

“That sounds hippieish,” I respond. “It won’t be Woodstock at the Muslim Cultural Center.”

“This we gotta see,” John is more practical.

“We started a swimming camp at the Lake and teach kids to sing and play music after swim lessons. John was there today. You left. Where did Brian go?”

“He was bored. He really idolizes you for how you let him and the other writers on the movie be creative.”

Debbie whispers to John not to bring up the past.

“Sorry, but Brian has a crush on him.”

“I met him at Taboo, the gay nightclub. I didn’t mean to mislead him.”

“You’re not gay?”

“It’s something I haven’t figured out. Everyone seems to know that I was gay but I don’t have any sexual feelings, gay or straight. It’s a side effect of coming out of a coma.”

“What was that like.”

“All I knew was this isn’t America. All the signs in the hospital were in French.”

“No one told you things from your past?”

“Freddie has a file with many details. I was anxious to read it. The Doctor told him to let me discover who I am now without any baggage from the past. When I met Brian and he told me I was a gay slut, I decided I needed to work on my future by living in the present, not in the past.”

Debbie has jet-lag and falls asleep on John shoulder. My stories are boring her. We park at their hotel and they retire to their room. I suggest we all have dinner at le Museum. I walk over and explain to M. Iverson that there will be fourteen for dinner that night. He promises a feast.

“Raclette por le appétiser?”

“Naturellement.”

I walk to the Lake House. Mike, Amar and Duncan are in the pool. I watch as they show me they have been practicing their swim lessons. It soon devolves into splashing and horseplay. I change into a swimsuit, but an overwhelming sorrow hits me again. Are sad memories going to pop up from my buried memory?

I wander into the lounge where David and Freddie have escaped the kids playing in the pool.

“What’s up, zombie boy, why so sad?”

“Those people from my past make me sad. We spent half the time crying.”

“What, ho?” Freddie looks up. “They said you were wonderful and made the movie as great as it is.”

“I’ll get a print and we can watch it,” David remarks. “It is hilarious.”

“When I died, they were so sad. No one told them I was in a coma. I really am a zombie to them.”

“What do we do when we’re sad?” David asks Freddie.

“We put on a show.”

“We can do ‘Rocky Horror,” I suggest meekly.

“We did that song ‘Transylvania,’ and now my son thinks I’m a transvestite.”

“Just sometimes,” Freddie jokes.

“How about ‘The Monster Mash?’

‘(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash
(They did the mash) It caught on in a flash
(They did the mash) They did the monster mash’

“I made the reservation for 14 at le Museum tonight at 8. After eating we can sing outside in the plaza in honor of the Director of ‘American Werewolf in London.’”

“You paying?” Freddie sneers.

“I guess,” watching my thousand francs diminish quickly.

“Don’t worry, Boss,” we got it covered,” Bowie rescues me. “I want to play Dracula and Duncan can be  Dracula’s son.”

“Looking for a role in Landis’ film?” Freddie kids the Starman, always ready to play a new role.

I run and gather the Knobs to practice the song as the ‘The Crypt-Kicker Five.’ They are happy to play for free. Freddie searches his party supplies and finds appropriate masks for the various monsters. Freddie will be the Wolfman. Roger is Igor. Deacy is Frankenstein’s Monster. As the Knobs practice, we all ‘vamp’ it up. I will sing the song as narrator.

 Mike asks me to sit with him.

“I miss you. We are so busy we never have a chance to lay in bed and talk like we used to do.”

“You miss having sleepovers. The problem is I lost my bedroom with the original Queen musicians back. I miss you, too. The people from my past arrived today. It makes me so confused. I don’t know them, and they are so upset after thinking I was dead. It is so weird.”

“You miss me?”

“We’re best friends. Sometimes I talk with Jim but you’re the only one my age. You understand me. We both are lost youths.”

We hug and hug. I sense I am about to cry for the third (fourth?) time today.

“Mike,” I sniff. “I think I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

He sees the tears forming in my eyes. He wipes the tears away.

“You’re overwrought and exhausted. Stay with me in Lausanne tonight. We can talk and work this out.”

“Can I?” I am such a wimp.

We hug and lay back on the couch together for a few minutes. The fear of almost crying goes away.

I jump up and announce, “Raclette. Everyone’s having Raclette tonight.”

Everyone throws whatever is throwable at me. I am so happy.

Amar announces he cannot have dinner with us and needs to go home. Duncan has a near tantrum.

“He is the only one who is close to my age. Don’t leave, Amar.”

“I’ll drive you home,” David suggests. “I’ll tell your father we need you to dance when we do the Monster Mash after dinner. He can bring the girls to watch if he wants.”

 

Oh no, the screaming meanies. I wonder if Amar really wants to perform tonight. He is boxed in. I tell Mike we need to pay attention to Amar. His only friend right now is seven. We go over and start roughing him up.

“What? What I do?” Amar is confused.

“What’s wrong with you. Your only friend is seven-years-old.”

“Yeah, Amar,” Duncan pipes up. “What’s wrong with you?”

“I bet you don’t even like Raclette,” I accuse him.

“I’m not allowed to eat sausage,” he admits.

“Poor Amar,” Mike and I sing, “all dressed up and nothing to eat.”

 

All four of us boys jump in the pool. I put Duncan on my shoulders and Mike has Amar. We ‘joust’ until Amar drags Duncan underwater. He has not had that lesson yet and comes up screaming. The adults retire to the lounge. I can smell the marijuana smoke from the pool deck. I realize I will be twenty soon and no longer a kid. Maybe then I will stop crying.

 

We get to the restaurant before eight and chat with the few fans awaiting our possible arrival.

“Stick around tonight. After we eat, we planned a special treat for our fans.”

They promise to stay true and not leave.





The table for fourteen only fits in the front window. We ignore the fans outside trying to grab our attention. It is so unSwiss to act crazy in public.

 

John and Debbie soon arrive, seated between Bowie and Mercury, the place of honor. The Raclette platters are ready for Racletting. David explains to John how to scrape the cheese off the bread unto the goodies.

“Is this like pizza?”

“That’s why Laz loves it. He forces it on us at every meal.”

“It’s just for starters, apéritif. There is a full menu to order from,” I announce. “I am the host tonight,” as I lay my hundred franc notes on the table.

“Don’t be silly, Laz. That’s your hard-earned earnings from the Casino gig. Freddie and I will pay.”

“We’ll pay for ourselves,” Debbie the feminist American offers. Her determined independence melts away when she remembers dinners in Hollywood with my old self. The tears form and spill down her cheeks.

I start crying again. Freddie looks worried.

“I’m just having a nervous breakdown,” I laugh. The tears stop when I stand up and sing,

 

‘I’m about to have a nervous breakdown
My head really hurts
If I don’t find a way out of here
I’m gonna go berserk

‘Cause I’m crazy and I’m hurt
Head on my shoulders
Going berserk’

Produced By

Chuck Dukowski, Bryan Migdol, Greg Ginn & Keith Morris

Written By Greg Ginn

Mike grabs me and makes me sit down. M. Iverson looks worried. The other diners look away.

“Laz can’t help himself. Where he finds these songs, no one knows. But he has to sing when inspired,” Mike explains my behavior.

“Is that the song that chased everyone out of the Casino?” John asks.

“No. But it was the same craziness. We had already done our encore and the fans wouldn’t leave. It took about 15 seconds of 200 kids thrashing in front of the stage and falling into the front row seats to panic the crowd,” Freddie explains what happened.

 

“La carte?” M. Iverson is ready to move on to the next course. Raclette always fires me up.

 

The meal settles down. I speak with M. Iverson who eyes me warily but allows me to run an extension cord onto the plaza in front of the restaurant. Pop-up performances are not strictly legal but since they are in the public plaza, he cannot be blamed. I promise that we are doing a 1950’s dance song, not punk rock. I promise not to involve the restaurant if we are prosecuted. I will say that I took the cord without permission. The old guy likes the publicity from these pop-ups but needs deniability.

 

As we finish the meal with coffee and brandy, Freddie announces that we had planned a short skit for Director Landis as spoof of his upcoming Vampire movie.

“It’s call ‘American Zombie in Romania,’ in honor of our beloved Laszlo, who worked on Mr. Landis’ latest hit movie, ‘Animal House.’

Oh gawd, the tears are about break out.

I quickly run outside while the bill is paid, working with the Knobs to set up drums, guitars and mic. The tears back off. Somehow a crowd of fans has shown up, word of mouth.

The restaurant provides seats for John and Debbie, the guests of honor. Swiss manners keep the crowd from moving too close. We need a large space in front to dance and perform. There is no stage.

 

Freddie steps to the mic, “Tonight, I am the Wolfman,” as he puts on a rubber mask. “Laszlo of Romania will narrate our story about American Halloween.”

 

Tom and Steve hit the double drums with the simple beat.

 

‘I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the monster mash

(Everyone starts doing the monster mash)

(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash
(He did the mash) It caught on in a flash
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

 (Everyone spazzes out from being electrocuted)

They did the monster mash
(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash
(They did the mash) It caught on in a flash
(They did the mash) They did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun (Wa hoo, tennis shoe)
The party had just begun (Wa hoo, tennis shoe)
The guests included Wolfman, Dracula and his son

(Freddie, David and Duncan don their masks)


The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, ‘The Crypt-Kicker Five’

 (I bow to the band)

They played the monster mash
(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash
(They played the mash) It caught on in a flash
(They played the mash) They played the monster mash

Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
He opened the lid and shook his fist and said
“Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?

It’s now the monster mash
(The monster mash) And it’s a graveyard smash
(It’s now the mash) It’s caught on in a flash
(It’s now the mash) It’s now the monster mash

Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band

(Bowie and Duncan dance together)
And my Monster Mash is the hit of the land


For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Bowie sent you

Then you can monster mash
(The monster mash) And do my graveyard smash
(Then you can mash) You’ll catch on in a flash
(Then you can mash) Then you can monster mash

Easy Igor, you impetuous young boy (Wa hoo, monster mash)

(Roger in mask shlups around the front of the band)


(Wa hoo, monster mash)
(Wa hoo, monster mash)
(Wa hoo, monster mash)
(Wa hoo, monster mash)

Songwriters: Leonard Rosenman

Monster Mash lyrics © Unichappell Music Inc., Reservoir 416, Gary S Paxton Publications, Capizzi Music, Bmg Rights Management (ireland) Ltd, Acoustic Music Inc, Opc Music Publishing Inc.

A few fans have joined the chaos, dancing with us. We play the song again and everyone is dancing, John and Debbie included.

It goes on for fifteen minutes. We shut it down to avoid the Gendarmes.

“Thank you, Montreux.” I end the show. “Luckily you have four months until Halloween to improve your dancing.”

John invites everyone back to their hotel for a nightcap. Mike looks anxiously at David who nods that they will not leave Montreux yet. Amar invites Duncan to spend the night at his house since they are swim buddies. He knows his sisters will worship the seven-year-old son of their idol. I hope Duncan survives. David leaves Mike with me, promising to return shortly.

We take over a corner of the small hotel bar. The ladies of the night nod at me in recognition but soon lose interest in our all-male entourage (except for Queen Debbie).

I announce I am going home with David and Mike. Everyone promises they will not force the Landises to reveal my embarrassing past.

Freddie goes ahead and interrogates me anyway.

“So, how’s it feel to visit your sordid past.”

“I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. You want me to sing that song again?” I threaten.

“No,” everyone yells.

I notice that Roger is engaged is discussion with one of the local ladies. Deacy looks embarrassed. If they chose to stay aloof, that’s their decision.

I ask John how he liked our spoof of his latest script.

“If I can sign everyone to play the roles they chose, I am open to a rewrite,” he agrees. “Laszlo of Romania?  How about Laser of London? It sounds better.”

“I can’t act,” I contend. “I can only grin like a fool or break down and cry for the camera.”

“What is it with the crying, Laz?” Jim pipes up. “I’d never seen you cry until the last two days.”

“These people love me and I don’t even remember them or why.” The tears are forming.

Mike holds my hand under the table.

“How about Freddie sings his ‘Somebody’ song to Debbie,” I suggest.

Freddie sits Debbie at the piano bar with him and sings while everyone else does back up,

 

‘Everyday (everyday) I try and I try and I try But everybody wants to put me down They say I’m going crazy They say I got a lot of water in my brain Ah, got no common sense I got nobody left to believe in Yeah yeah yeah yeah

Oh, Lord
Ooh somebody, ooh somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
(Can anybody find me someone to love)

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

Somebody To Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

At the end Freddie sings in a whisper, while the backups are sotto voice.

Debbie is hugging John as the tears flow. I finally am able hold my tears back. Mike still holds my hand. Nervous breakdown averted.

 “What was that all about?” David asks as we drive back to Lausanne.

“Love,” Mike laughs. “She flew all night from LA when she found out that Laz is alive.”

“She’s in love with Laz?” David missed everything. “She was wrapped around her husband. Does he forgive you, Laz?”

“It wasn’t like that. I was like a son to her.”

“They’re only a few years older than you.”

“All I know is what they told me.”

“They promised not to burden you with things you don’t remember.”

“There were no details. The minute she saw me, she fell apart. We cried together.”

“You remember her?”

“No. That’s what’s so weird. The feelings bubbled up and the tears burst out. I had the worst day. Mike was finally there to show me what real love felt like, not this chaos of not remembering why I feel so bad.”

“Mike? You’re in love with Mike?”

“Don’t be foolish. We’re best friends. I love having a best friend. Debbie’s very nice but I have no memories of her except for today. Her love was so strong, I had to react. It felt like a nervous breakdown.”

“That was the punk song you sang.”

“Yeah. Singing reminded me of who I am. Who I am now. I can’t go back to be what I don’t remember.”

David reached out and squeezed my hand.

“You’re alright, Boss,” his ultimate praise. “But I am a bit worried about Duncan. Every time those girls see me, they scream.”

“Bowie Mania,” he is diffident about that.

 

Mike and I lay in bed for hours talking and catching up. He finds being a whirling dervish ‘interesting.’ I rue my inability to achieve whirling ‘nirvana.’ He describes it as a lowered state of awareness where your mind slows down and your perception fails to pick up the normal clues that explain everyday things; by slowing down, things are different. The connection between people and things is more solid.’

“Heavy, dude,” I joke.

“Yeah, like surfers seem so stupid to the normal me.”

“Watch it. I surf, at least that’s how I died.”

“What was dying like?”

“Righteous, dude. Remember, surfers are stupid. I remember nothing about dying and being dead.”

“Far out, dude,” he mocks me.

We do the bro punch to each other, smile, lay back, and wrap up tight. Next, I know, it is morning. I am so stiff from never moving away from Mike. We get up together, stretching and recovering use of stiff back, leg and arm muscles.

“I need my morning croissant,” I complain.

“You are a weird American,” Mike observes.

“I’m from Romania. Remember?”

“What person are you when you stand up in a restaurant and belt out punk rock songs?”

“I’m following my heart.”

“Give me some warning, so we can make it a duet.”

“Only if you’re having a nervous breakdown.”

“How do you know that song. The band’s from the LA Beach, not even Hollywood.”

“How do you know it?”

“A ‘Wiz’ set worker had it on a boom box. I love it.”

“You are not a punk rocker.”

“Just Mike from Lausanne, no last name.”

“We are the Lost Boys.”

“Every time you start crying, you sing a song to get over your breakdown.”

“Yeah. I have performance addiction.”

“Best sing a song people like if it is spontaneous.”

“Like what?”

“Try this oldie, from the Stones, 19th Nervous Breakdown,

 

‘Stop

Look around

Here it comes

Here it comes

It’s just my 19th Nervous Breakdown’

 
Produced By Andrew Loog Oldham
Written By Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

We sing the whole song and collapse into giggles and drooling.

 

“And if you just can’t stop your performance addiction, try Lou Reed’s ‘Waiting on the Man.”

 




Duncan and his dad rush into Mike’s room.

“Why are you singing?” Duncan has to know.

“I know that song,” David is a Velvet Underground fan. “It is not appropriate for youngsters,’ He claps his hands over Duncan’s ears.

“Why? Why?” Duncan is always waiting for us.

“When you’re older,” David is a good dad.

“We’re practicing songs that Laz may suddenly stand up in public to sing.”

“It keeps me from crying,” I explain. ‘Mike’s my keeper, watching out for breakdowns.”

“Is it because you met those people from your past?” David has a clue.

“Yeah. They love me and I have no memory of them or why.”

“So what? Amar’s sisters scream when they see me.”

“You’re famous and used to it.”

“Well, get used to it, Boss. You can’t get off the celebrity train once you step on.”

“It’s not teenage fan worship. They really love me. I hurt them when I died.”

“Normally you don’t come back to face the consequences.”

“You boys ready for swim lessons?” David is today’s carpool.

“Yeah. I promised Amar I’d find him a normal bathing suit. His cover-everything ‘costume’ is straight out of the 19th Century.”

“Muslims practice modesty,” David explains.

“He just wants to fit in.”

“We’ll make him wear his Sufi robes tomorrow to promote the show after noon prayers.”

“Do we really want a hundred screaming kids there?”

“Only Muslim ones.”

 

Mike goes up to Amar’s house to get swim suits. I move into the car’s storage area.

“You really need to get a mini-van, Dad, if you are going to chauffeur your kid and his friends around.”

“What’s a minivan. Is it a Morris Mini?”

“It looks like a large bread box and seats 8 people.”

“Not as stylish as an Aston Martin.”

“Easier to drive.”

“You’ll never drive this car again.”

“Right, Dad.”

I start singing ‘My Generation,’

 ‘People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)’

Songwriters: Peter Townshend.

Mike and the kids walk up.

“Is Laz singing again? What did you do? Is he crying?”

“I told him he’ll never drive this car again.”

“Don’t get all teary, Laz,” Duncan mocks me.

Amar crawls into the back with me.

“Old people are so lame,” he is on my side.

The swimming goes well. David leaves for the Lake House to have coffee with Freddie. He returns with an acoustic guitar, sitting on a park bench, tuning it. The beginners and then all the rest of the swimmers abandon the Lake and surround him.

I need to take charge.

“Okay. Swim lessons are done for the day. Let’s welcome David Bowie with a song, so he knows how well we sing. What song shall we do?”

Everyone shouts ‘Space Oddity.’ Bowie grimaces. The choir singers stand in front with the non-singers behind the bench where Bowie sits. He plays the opening notes on the guitar,

The non-singers do the countdown, then a soloist takes the lead vocals and the choir backs him up. David throws in the psychedelic guitar leads on the acoustic. Everyone is singing at the end.

We all give ourselves a big hand. Having the rock star singing with us inspired the neophytes.

“Well, that was amazing. Maybe next time I record the song, I’ll use the Vienna Boys Choir,” David praises the kids.

“No,” someone yells. “Use us.”

“Okay. Okay,” David capitulates. “What next?”

Suddenly they are shy.

“Okay, Amar, Mike and Laz. Come up here and show them what we are doing tomorrow in Lausanne”

Amar and Mike are excited to show off their dancing. I have yet to know what role I play in the performance other than sound engineer. David pulls out a single bongo which he brought from the Lake House. I figure I can manage that.

“You have to sing ’Yassassin’ at the beginning of each verse line,” David whispers..

My New English skill is being tested on Arabic.

“Does anyone know what Reggae is?” David asks the crowd.

“Yeah, you smoke Jamaican weed, sing slowly and pretend you’re on an island,” is shouted from the back.

“How about Turkish Reggae?”

“If you’re a Turk working in Germany you smoke weed and get deported.” We have a humorist in the crowd.

“This is my Turkish Reggae song. Sorry but there’s no weed, so no one gets deported.

I start laying down a beat on the bongo. Mike and Amar start swaying and slowly moving around. Duncan runs up, wanting to show what Amar taught him. Once they are moving together, I start the song with my one Turkish word cry and David responds with each verse line,

‘Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – Just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – But such a life I’ve never known’

David does the next cry and response

‘We came from the farmlands
To live in the city
We walked proud and lustful
In this resonant world

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away’

We next repeat the Yassassin chorus. Then David continues the song.

‘Look at this – no second glances
Look at this – no value of love
Look at this – just sun and steel
Look at this – then look at us

If there’s someone in charge
Then listen to me
Don’t say nothing’s wrong
‘Cause I’ve got a love
And she’s afeared

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away’

Songwriters: David Bowie

The initial chorus is repeated several times at the end.

The kids listen intently. The dancers whirl faster and faster. Several kids join them.

By the end the crowd sways or moves in synch with the whirling Dervish. Everyone sighs at the end. There is some clapping but it seems like the kids are thinking about the song’s lyrics.

“Anyone want to say what the song means?” David hopes to engage the listeners.

“Immigrant lives are hard?”

“Definitely,” David agrees.

“But we’re all Swiss here. The immigrants are in Germany.”

“Well, I’m an immigrant. I speak English here and no one complains. Laz is American but they all speak English.”

“Everyone speaks English.”

“What about Amar? He speaks Arabic at home, French here and English with us. He is so accommodating. Maybe he dances just because he’s nice.”

“He dances for himself,” someone is observant. “It is his culture.”

“Maybe he is afraid of being deported.”

“No. We like him. He’s our friend. Look, he now has a cool swim suit.”

Everyone laughs, even Amar who twirls around.

Let’s think about the song. Was it written to make people like immigrants? Does anyone know who wrote it?”

I raise my hand, but David ignores me.

No one makes a guess.

“I wrote it with my Turkish friends in Berlin,” David smiles.

The crowd is impressed.

“Do you like the song better now?”

They nod.

“That is the power of a song. If you can identify with what it says and the rhythm makes you move, the song becomes part of you. Does that make you want to write songs? Est-il mieux d’écrire en Français? Peut-etre.”

“Oui.” “Bien sur.” “Posible.”

“It is the song which tells you which language to write in. Some songs need the poetry of rhyme and rhythm to grab your attention. Those are usually pretty songs. My friend Laz sang his angry song at the Casino show, and everyone ran out the door. Does anyone want him to sing it now?”

The crowd starts clapping. I have no choice. I love my ‘Fools Who Laugh’ song, I hit the bongo and David tries to stay up on acoustic guitar.

Instantly the kids start running around, bumping into each other, pushing off, bouncing like pin balls. I only play for about 30 seconds. Our local Gendarme looks alarmed.

“Calm down,” David requests. That takes about 30 seconds. “Well, that’s the end of the lesson today. Words and music make a song but intent and energy get you moving. I’ll try to make more swim lesson sessions. How about everyone try to write your own song. Then we can work on how the guitar fits in.”

They slowly disperse. Duncan comes up to his dad looking like he was run over by a herd of horses.

“That was the greatest, da,” he exclaims.

We brush him off. He decides he likes me more now.

The Gendarme warns us ‘No Punk Rock.”

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